118: Blended Family Dynamics – The Enneagram Types Explained
The enneagram gives us insight into our unique gifts and the contributions we can make with those around us. But it shouldn’t be the ultimate source of our identity. Ron Deal talks with Jeff & Beth McCord about interpreting core enneagram types alongside the truth of the Gospel as we relate to others.
About the Guest
Jeff and Beth McCord are the founders of Your Enneagram Coach, a community designed to be a safe place for individuals to explore a Christ-centered Enneagram. Through their teaching, they guide individuals, couples, and groups to self-awareness and life-enhancing growth. Their mission is to help people see themselves with astonishing clarity, so they can break free from self-condemnation, fear, and shame through the unconditional love, forgiveness, and freedom in Chri...more
The enneagram gives us insight into our unique gifts & contributions. But it shouldn’t be the ultimate source of our identity. Ron Deal talks with Jeff & Beth McCord about interpreting core types alongside the truth of the Gospel as we relate to others.
118: Blended Family Dynamics – The Enneagram Types Explained
Beth: Each of the qualities that God has given us to reflect Him and to bring glory to Him. For instance, I am the type nine, the peaceful accommodator. I am very kind and thoughtful and flexible. But the more I become misaligned in thinking I have to do things in my own strength, my unhealthy tendencies as a nine will pop up where I become too flexible, too accommodating, and losing my whole sense of myself just to make others happy.
Ron: Welcome to the FamilyLife Blended podcast. I'm Ron Deal. We help blended families, and those who love them, to pursue the relationships that matter most. Today we're going to be talking about becoming more aware of your personality and the personality of those in your home in order to help you lead and love better. So stay with me.
I got to tell you; we love to hear from our listeners; really warms my heart when people take the time to write into us. We heard from, "Let's do this" on YouTube. They're watching on YouTube. "As a father of three bonus children, I have to remember that we have come so far as a family, but we have not arrived yet. I need God's help daily." Me too, buddy. Absolutely, and thanks for listening.
We heard from Cliniche. She says, "Thanks for the encouragement. We recently had a conversation with our pastor about our desire to help with blended families. Keep up the good work." You know, I love that a lot of stepfamily ministries start when one couple goes to their pastor and talks about the need. You can have a big influence on your local church.
A lot of people listening right now goes, "Well, that's not us." Well, let me just tell you, you never know. I've been so many places through the years speaking at churches where it was one couple that conceived the idea, talked to the pastoral team, got permission, made it happen. You never know how you can influence. Perhaps you can bring an event to your church or just start a small group. That's what we do at FamilyLife Blended, among other things, is we provide the curriculum. We have all the training for you as a ministry leader. We have an online certificate course in blended family ministry you can do at your own pace.
We have an annual Summit, which is coming up Thursday, October 12th, 2023. It's virtual this year, so you get to stay at home in the comfort of your own home; get one or two or five or ten people from your church together and go through that Summit, Thursday, October 12th, and who knows what it stirs inside you. And the next thing you know, maybe you're ministering to other couples, so Cliniche, thanks for doing that. Thanks for sharing your idea. And who knows, maybe somebody else will follow along.
Okay, so as you probably know, there's a thing called the Enneagram. Anybody ever heard of that before? Well, this thing has been taking the world by storm the last few years, and today we're going to spend some time learning about ourselves and hopefully gaining some knowledge and some insight about your children, your family, and how you can come together as a family.
Beth and Jeff McCord are the founders of Your Enneagram Coach, a community for people who want to explore a Christ-centered enneagram. They want to help people see themselves more clearity, with more clarity, I should say. They want to help people break free from self-condemnation and experience freedom in Christ. I'm for all of that. [Laughter] They're authors of the books, Becoming Us and More Than Your Number. Beth and Jeff have two children and live in Nashville. Guys, thanks so much for joining me today.
Beth: Yes, thanks for having us.
Jeff: It's a privilege. What an honor to be able to share some of the things in our experience and what we've been studying to help some of these families and find each other in the midst of a new season, so we're grateful to be here.
Ron: Yes, love it. Okay, we all know the enneagram has become very popular in the, in North America, I should say, probably around the world over the last few years. Do you have a sense of why that is?
Beth: Oh yes. I mean, you know there's a lot of really great typologies out there that help you to understand yourself. But what this does differently is that it's not just telling you what your behaviors are, it's telling you why you do what you do, why you think, feel, and behave in particular ways. And that really helps us because I think a lot of us, we get stuck and we kind of are like, "How am I here again? Like, "Why is this happening?" And when we can understand the why, we can then redirect ourselves into a healthier direction that's really kind of custom to our personality type and what's more, most beneficial for us.
Jeff: And you know what, let me frame this. There's a verse that Beth and I sometimes use to describe how the enneagram's helpful, particularly, for followers of Jesus. In Jeremiah chapter two, the Bible tells us that, "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."
The idea there is that a cistern is something that would hold water. It would be like a vessel of water, or it could be something underneath the city, but it was for survival purposes. What God is doing in that passage is saying, "Hey, you've turned away from me and you've tried to provide security for yourself with this life-giving water, but you've forsaken me because I'm a spring that you don't have to contribute to versus a cistern that you have to put water into."
Well, each enneagram type has these motivations and a pattern of relating to our thirst. Well for—and then Jesus tells us in the New Testament that He is the spring of living water. He is the living water, and so what the enneagram helps us to identify is, what are my strategies for living life apart from Jesus? And what does it look like for me when my heart is aligned with who Jesus says I am? What does that look like that I can be a gift to others? And the enneagram gives us unique insight into people, of what their unique gifts are and their contributions to the lives of those around them.
Ron: It's curious that you said that because so many people—I've heard people, Christians in particular, wonder if we should use enneagram or things like that.
Ron: And what I love about what you guys are doing is you are framing it up within the Christian conversation, within the narrative of being a follower of Christ. Why is that important to you guys? And what's unique or distinct about—I mean, why should people care where they get their enneagram information from?
Beth: Sure. Well, you're the pastor. [Laughter]
Jeff: You're that one. Well, one, we affirm and encourage. Christians are called to be a discerning people and to just not go with the whims of all the cultural interest and fads of the day, so we are grateful for it. Matter of fact, we started learning about the enneagram in 2001 whenever I was attending seminary. I mean, we both were enduring it during that time.
Beth: [Laughter] Me with the little kiddos.
Jeff: But we didn't start publicly talking about it for several years and then, Your Enneagram Coach didn't get created until 2016.
Beth: Yes, there really wasn't a gospel-centered approach to the enneagram back then and so a lot of the language was from worldviews and perspectives that were not like ours. And so that's why Jeff and I have spent the last 15, 17 years really nuancing the enneagram from a gospel-centered perspective, because all truth is God's truth.
We want to make sure that we are aligning with Him, first and foremost. And everything that we do hinges on our identity in Christ.
And it's not about our identity and our number, but we do recognize that God created us all uniquely, like the body of Christ. We have the hands, the feet, the mind, all these different parts of the body that are so crucial in making up the body of Christ, but they all do different things, which is great. And it's the same with the personalities. God has created us all uniquely different and so we want to bless that diversity but also bring it in line in unity, as in following the good news of Jesus Christ.
Jeff: And so what you'll have within the whole Enneagram studies or whatever culture, community, is that people will teach the Enneagram through the lens of their worldview.
A worldview is, how are we made? What were we intended for? What's the problem? What's the solution to the problem? And what's our future hope? Well, any Enneagram teacher will teach from their particular worldview. We happen to teach it from a biblical worldview so anything that doesn't agree with orthodox Christianity, that's with Enneagram, we will either redefine or remove that into categories that fit with what Jesus taught us.
So we are not in any way trying to replace the scriptures, but rather we're allowing the Bible itself to lead and guide our thoughts about how we experience ourselves uniquely made in the image of God, but with this fallen heart of sin that wants to live apart from God, that our hope is in Jesus Christ and our future is a redeemed humanity, all because of what Jesus has done. And the Enneagram just helps to give some nuance to what that looks like along the way.
Ron: Beth, you just said something I absolutely love, and that was, "My identity is not in my number. Identity is in Christ."
Ron: Now, I just got to say, as I'm a mental health professional, been around a long time, used a lot of inventories, a lot of personality profiles, you know, know them from the inside out, their usefulness and so on. And if there's one thing that sort of annoys me [Laughter] about people in the Enneagram, it's that their identity is in their number, which really borderline comes close to excuse.
Ron: "Well, this is the way I am because I'm a six."
Ron: "I'm a four. I'm a nine."
Jeff: We've never done that to each other. [Laughter]
Beth: I will say, Ron, so what we do when we're teaching the Enneagram is we say, "Don't use the Enneagram as a sword or a shield." Meaning you don't want to wield this thing and go, "Oh Ron, you're just being a three," you know?
Ron: There you go.
Beth: Or you don't want to go "Well, Ron and Jeff, I'm a nine, like I can procrastinate. That's just who I am."
Beth: That is not the gospel because the gospel says that we are made in the likeness of Christ, and that on this side of the fall, we are wanting to become more and more like Him, which is the renewing of our mind and our heart to be in line with Him. And so if we sit back and make excuses, that means that we are not surrendering, depending upon the Holy Spirit to work in true transformation in our lives.
Now, what we do want to recognize is that all nine types have beautiful qualities and characteristics that reflect God himself. But when we are misaligned with the truth of the gospel, those same qualities get misaligned, and they actually become very harmful to ourselves and others.
It's kind of like people say it's two sides to one coin. Well, that's why we want to renew our mind and get our minds focused back on what's true because He created us this unique way with all of our Enneagram perspectives and ways of being to glorify him. We just really want to make sure that we are not using it to hurt others, or ourselves—you know criticize ourselves—or just to sit behind it and go, "Well, that's just who I am."
Jeff: Ron, it is kind of interesting to think about it in these terms. Years ago, Dick Keyes, who's with L'Abri Ministries, which came out of Francis Schaeffer's work in the sixties and seventies. It was a unique, an apologetic movement where they were talking to a non-Christian world about how things were changing so rapidly, and so they created these safe places, which is the French word. I think it's French for L'Abri, safe place or refuge.
Well, Dick Keyes wrote a book called Beyond Identity. I think the way in which God has made us is to receive identity outside of ourself, about who He says about us, but that natural inclination being human is to find other things that we think will give us a secure sense of identity. And that shows up with Enneagram. It shows up with Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder. It can show up with spiritual gifts where we—you know we either feel great about our gifts, we don't feel great about our gifts, we use our gifts in negative ways, and we can use those gifts in healthy ways.
But our heart needs to come to rest with all that who we have become because of Jesus' life, death, resurrection and ascension. But there's still this part of us that receives insight, wisdom—you know, the Bible calls it general revelation about, what is this? Who am I in this world and that I can benefit from that would give me insight in how to engage with others and myself and God?
Ron: Yes, that's very insightful. I've often said that two of my spiritual gifts are defensiveness and sarcasm. [Laughter] So I just used the sarcasm right there, but that does not excuse me from having to bring those under the lordship of Jesus. And by the way, let me just say to our listener, we're going to dive deep in practical application in just a minute. Hang on with us. We're going to talk about kids and parenting and bonding and blended families.
But let me just get this out of the way. We'll talk about the basic structure of the nine types. What I hear you guys saying is so very important. Whenever you learn something about yourself from whatever tool it is that gives you an insight into your personality or your style, your relationship style, whatever that might be, once you see that it is not a permanent self.
We're called to have a new self, constantly growing and maturing in Jesus Christ, and so if I learn something about me, boy am I good at defensiveness. And my job, my calling, is to modify that. I may never lose that natural part of who I am. If you're a three, like I am a three, if that's who you are, that's who you are. And yet I am called to bring that into self-control. I'm called to shave off the extreme parts of myself and hone it into, and direct it, into places that are more holy than less holy. And that's what I would just encourage our listener to keep in mind as we're talking.
Jeff: Well, and Ron, you know one of the things that Beth and I are known to do is to walk the wheel. The Enneagram symbol has a circle, and all nine types are on that circle. But if you take a topic like defensiveness, rather than simply halting there, as it merely being a character defect, we can actually become curious about it. What is the defensiveness trying to protect? What is it that you're scared to admit? And that answer is unique to each Enneagram type. How does defensiveness show up in your life?
Beth: So basically, you just keep wanting to ask the question, why? Why? Why? And basically, what will happen is you'll get to the core motivations of each of the nine types, which is where their personality hinges on.
Ron: Okay, so let's get into some practical stuff. We don't have time to review all nine types. To my listening audience, I just want to assume you know a little bit about the Enneagram. If you don't, you don't know anything but after today you want to learn more, the McCord's have a summary on their websites. Check our show notes; that's going to get you connected to that. They also have a free downloadable pdf—couple of them—that you'll be able to access there and so take a look in the show notes if you want to learn more.
Can you guys just give us a big overview of the nine types and a little bit of the structure and how this may be different from some other personality things people may have done in the workplace. DISC profile; that kind of thing.
Beth: Yes, absolutely.
Beth: Yes, like you said, we've got those free downloadables that would be really helpful. But like I said, the Enneagram is all about the why. Why you think, feel, and behave in particular ways? And that comes from the core motivations of each of the nine types.
And the core motivations; there's four of them.
- There's the core fear, which you're always running away from or trying to prevent from happening.
- Your core desire, this is what you're striving to obtain. Like, "Oh, if I just had this, life will be perfect."
- Then you have a core weakness. Other teachers will call it the passion or the deadly sin, but this is where we feel that we get stuck in a pattern of way of relating to the world. And then, but, you know, God, He is our strength in that weakness.
- And then the core longing. This is the message our heart longs to hear. This is what Jeff was directly talking about in Jeremiah 2:13. These are those cisterns that we think, "Oh, well, I'll fix this. I'll make this happen. I'll fill myself up with this longing." But it's a broken cistern that cannot hold water. But what can, is the spring of living water. So as a Christian perspective, what we say is, yes, you have a core longing, which is great. God gave you that longing, but it's only Jesus Christ who can, does and will continue to satisfy that core longing.
Now there's lots of other nuances to the Enneagram, like the wings, which are the two numbers on each side of your main type, which affect your type in some ways. And some other dynamics, but the one I want to highlight the most is what we call the levels of alignment with the gospel.
Each of the nine types, as again, they have these core motivations, why they're doing what they're doing. But it's going to be based on whether they are healthy, average, or unhealthy; or the way we use it is if you're aligned, misaligned, or out of alignment with the truth of the gospel. And so, each of the qualities that God has given us to reflect Him and to bring glory to Him.
For instance, I am a type nine, the peaceful accommodator. I am very kind and thoughtful and flexible, accommodating, which can be a really great thing when I'm in the healthy aligned place. When I know my identity is rest assured in Christ, then I'm going to move towards people with more confidence and assuredness and speak what is good for all.
But the more I become misaligned in thinking I have to do things on my own strength, my unhealthy tendencies as a nine will pop up where I become too flexible, too accommodating. I'll start to enmesh myself with other people and losing my whole sense of myself just to make others happy. You can see that it's still the same characteristics, but it's all dependent on if I'm aligned or misaligned with the gospel.
And that's what we want to recognize is you are your type. God created you that way. But the whole point of what we're trying to do is to help people to understand when they're misaligned and how they can gain freedom through their identity in Christ to become more aligned and know that they are beloved.
Jeff: And one of the important things about the Enneagram is that it's dynamic. It's not static, so you can think of each type, like a Sherwin William paint color. You may be going to the paint store to get blue, and you get there and realize there's a thousand blues and you can get there from any color. The Enneagram has so much dynamic variances to it—
Jeff: —that we're not just one number, but the sort of, the combination of a variety of different numbers that show up in how we relate to the world in healthy and unhealthy ways or aligned and misaligned ways. You're much bigger and much more unique than just one singular number, and the Enneagram helps to give language, not only for myself, but also for those who are important to me to understand about who I am and how I work in the world.
Beth: Just to bring clarity to that, you do have a main type, which everything kind of hinges on, so a main driving force, a main motivation. But we do use all nine types to some degree and so what we're usually trying to do is try to find that main type first and then understand how the other types do affect and influence us as well.
Ron: Okay, and the Enneagram also has some insights when you're in stress. That sort of influences how all this gets worked out. Say a word about that.
Beth: Yes, so when you look at the symbol, it looks like a nine-pointed geometric star, and so there's nine points. Each of the points represents one of the personality types and to each side of each personality type is your wing. And so just think of a bird having wings connected to it, so does the Enneagram. And those two types directly influence your main type, again, in healthy or unhealthy ways from their perspective, their personality type.
Now the ones that you're connected to through the lines—you know, like a star has lines—those lines also are connected to your type, and they also affect your personality type, whether in healthy and unhealthy ways. And usually what we'll show people is that one direction when you're under stress will usually influence you a lot more in a very particular way. And then the other line, usually when you're starting to grow in a particular way, you will move towards the healthier part of that.
I'll just give you example. For a type one, when a type one, they're the principled reformers. There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. And they can get, can become very critical and resentful that others don't do the right thing in the way that they see it. When they don't feel that others are attuning to and making things perfect or reformed, they can get very stressed.
And when they're stressed, they can move to the line that's connected to them, which ends up to being to type four. They don't become a type four; they're still a type one, but they'll take on some of the attributes of the type four, which means they'll start to take on some of the unhealthy attributes of, "No one understands me," "I'm all alone," "There's something wrong with me," and so they're bringing in some of the thought patterns and strategies of the four along with their type one.
But when they're starting to grow, that rigid type one starts to move towards the type seven, which is the other line it's connected to. They take on some of the healthy attributes of the seven where they're like, "There's grace," "There's abundance," "There is joy. I don't have to be so black and white and rigid because I am now free in Christ and His righteousness is mine, and He allows me to live an abundant, joyful life through His work."
And so, all of a sudden, yes, we still want to be more like Christ, but there's a lot more freedom and mercy and understanding when they move towards that space of seven. Again, they're not going to become the seven, but they're just incorporating some of those aspects.
Ron: Okay, so let's just dive in and do some case studies for a minute. Let's talk about marriage, right.
Ron: Let's talk about husbands and wives. Are there some easier combinations of numbers and some less easy combinations?
Beth: Well, another way that people say it [Laughter] usually is, "Okay, which types are the best together and which ones are the worst together?"
Ron: If I'm dating, what number am I looking for? [Laughter]
Beth: And I mean, I think to your point, there are going to be some types that naturally, more easily blend together in certain ways because they have—
Jeff: It is interesting because we have a course for each of the 45 couple types and there are trends of couples. Like certain types couple up together more than others do. And that may be part of it, but you go ahead. I was just—
Beth: I would say that there are going to be some types that have maybe some similar perspectives on life. Now, they're very different, but similar perspectives that might feel as if they are a better fit. But what we've noticed in developing the 45 courses and working with a lot of marriages is that honestly the most important thing is that each person is doing their own work, aligning their hearts with Christ, understanding their own story, their pain points, how they've seen the life, how they're reacting, and how to self-regulate.
When they're able to do those more healthy, emotionally intelligent self-regulation stuff, the better the relationship is, no matter how different their personalities are. But the more that they are misaligned with the gospel, the more unhealthy they get, that is really going to be a recipe for disaster.
Now you can have two type nines. Okay, these are the peaceful accommodators like myself, and they could be married and you're like, "Oh, that must be easy." Well, in some ways yes, because they're avoiding conflict.
Beth: But if you avoid conflict so much, you literally are missing each other, and you really don't have a relationship. An unhealthy nine married to an unhealthy nine are basically going to be two doormats living apart from each other and not seeing each other, not attuning to one another.
Now you can have two eights, and these are the fiery passionate protectors. Now, when they're both healthy, they are going to plow a path for each other. They are going to be each other's champion. They're going to motivate and cheer each other on and make sure everything is taken care of. But when they're unhealthy, they will plow over one another. So you can see that just because you might have—no matter what two Enneagram types are together, the greatest recipe for a wonderful marriage is that you're both doing your own work and aligning your heart with Christ and all the things that need to take place with that.
Jeff: You know, it's interesting, Ron, when in 2019, when we were developing these eight module courses and resources for couples that were specific to their couple type or relationship type, it was so hard because we would record these videos and then we had four different editors, two of which were our kids and a couple other friends. And each time they would get into the course, they're like, "Oh man, this couple type, that's going to be tough." And then we would start to reflect on like, "Do we know of couples that are this type?" And we always came up with someone who was, and started to realize like, "No, man, they're an awesome couple." And so, they're—we don't want to bring stereotypes to the Enneagram of, "Oh man, if you're married to this type, that's going to be a problem." But there really is a gift to each couple type in what they mutually bring to one another's life and to their world.
Ron: You know I love the insight here. It's like we said earlier, just because you know your type, that doesn't give you an excuse to act in certain ways. You still have to die to self. And what I'm hearing you guys say is same thing's true in marriage. In every way, I've still got to die to myself. I got to—it's really helpful to know your strengths, to know what your proclivities are, to know what your weaknesses are, and as you guys talk about motivations and fears underneath all of that, because that becomes the driving force to the external behavior and so all of that still has to be brought into self-control.
Ron: So that you can bring the best of you and the best of your strengths and giftings to the relationship with the other person.
Beth: And I would say the other big thing is curiosity. You know, we need to be curious, well, one, about ourselves and get to know ourselves, but the curiosity—
Jeff: That's such good point, Beth.
Beth: —of knowing our spouse, or our kids. I mean, because it goes in all relationships. And to try our best to understand why they think, feel, and behave in particular ways. Ask curious questions attuned to them; move into their world, into their space. Because we really think everyone sees the world the way we do. As you know, I've got, we all three of us have glasses on here. And we think we're wearing the same lens, right, because they're clear. But in actuality, we have very different lenses and we're seeing the world from very different perspectives.
And what we see in the Enneagram, it's almost like I'm wearing purple lens. You're, Ron, are wearing green lens and he's wearing orange lens. What if we understood that? What if we came to each of our relationships and said, "You know what, I bet they're not seeing, interpreting, and reacting in the same way I would. Let me take off my lens for a second. Let me put on their lens and then have that aha moment of ‘Oh, that's why you are the way you are. That's why you do this. That's why you struggle. How can I come alongside you and support you from the viewpoint that you have?'" And that is where real relationship can grow, and empathy can flourish.
Jeff: Ron, the Bible has this theme of the heart and the idea that all of our outward behavior begins with something that's happening in the heart first. Jesus says, "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." James, it's a book in the Bible that he talks about what causes, fights and quarrels among you. Don't they come from the desires that way toward your heart, right? And the Enneagram helps to capture these things that one, gives us an understanding that we are working out a desire in our heart that may be coming out sideways.
So for Beth, if she were to say something to me that lands on me wrong, one, I have the understanding of her Enneagram type and so I have a, at least some language to understand. And number two, not presuming upon her, I actually turned that knowledge into questions. Like, "Hey, Beth, that landed on me negatively. Would you mind rephrasing, or can you help me understand why you said that?" is a way of actually connecting in conflict whenever we miss one another, but it's also curious to understand, what was the intent behind the behavior.
Ron: One of the things my wife and I are talking and teaching a lot about these days is when you can really see the pain inside your spouse, and to use the language of the Enneagram, I think it would parallel with the desires, the fears that are the core factors. When you can see that core fear, then when something hits you in particular, and this is so hard to find the self-discipline to not react, slow that down and get curious about, "Oh, okay, how do I interpret what you just said or did through your core fear? You must be chasing something with that that is a need for you. And can I see that? Can I understand that? And what if I were to respond to what I think is your need, not so much the way it felt when it landed on me." Now there's a huge discipline in that.
Beth: Oh yes. Well, and here's, I would love—
Ron: That insight would be great, I think.
Beth: Yes. Well, and so with our book Becoming Us and the 45 courses that Jeff was talking about is, we give a very simple, framework, and it's the dance. And the dance is this infinity loop, okay? And inside each of the circles in the infinity loop is a person's core motivation so we've got one spouse on one loop and the other spouse on the other, and their core motivations are happening. I'm going to paint a picture if it's okay; I'm going to use you and your wife as an example. Let's see if this lands, okay.
Ron: Go right ahead. Let's have fun.
Beth: Your wife is a type two, the nurturing supporter and you are a type three, the admirable achiever. Now the type two's core fear is to be worthless, dispensable, not needed, rejected and they desire to be wanted, appreciated, and loved. But they struggle with the fear or with the core weakness of pride. And pride is where they focus on others' needs.
Because they're so afraid of this rejection they focus on other's needs and they move headlong into it with advice, opinions, guidance in this very confident way because it's like, "No, I know how to help you." all in hopes for the core longing is that the other person would say "You are wanted and loved." So that's their core motivations going on.
Now, for you as a type three, the admirable achiever, you fear failure being, exposed, to be worthless, inadequacy. Now, you desire to be capable, competent to have high value and to be highly esteemed because of who you are, what you do. But you struggle with the core weakness of deceit.
Now deceit in the Enneagram, what it means is you believe that your image is tied to your accomplishments, and everything has to stem from how people view and see you. It's kind of like a place kicker. You're as good as your last field goal, but for you as a three, it's, you're as good as your last success. Well, once you've completed it, now you're off to the next thing and so it's this constant need to shapeshift into a more desirable image for those that are around. Because the three thinks that they can't be simply loved for who they are, which is their core longing that they have to achieve in order to be loved. So those are the reasons why you guys do what you do.
We had some friends that were a type—
Jeff: I was just, I mean, the thought came to mind, you're going to get into smoothies.
Beth: Yes. [Laughter] So the reason why I brought it, because you, when you said two and three, I was like, "Oh, we have this great illustration." A wife was a two and the husband was a three, and he had dialed in his smoothie making abilities every day.
Jeff: He was killing it as a three, making smoothies.
Beth: —killing it. He made the best smoothie with all the right nutrition, et cetera. Well, his wife would go grocery shopping and twos naturally again, natural supporters. They feel other people's needs and so she's thinking at the grocery store "What would be helpful for him?" She's getting blueberries and raspberries and getting all these things that he never told her to go get, but she's just being kind and thoughtful.
Then she'll come down the stairs as he's beginning to pull things out of the refrigerator in the freezer, and she's like, "Oh, did you see that I got you raspberries and blueberries and this, that, and the other?" And all of a sudden, he's activated and you're probably thinking "Why? She's just being helpful." Well, because he's like, "Does she not think I can make the best smoothie? Does she think what I've done is inefficient?"
Ron: This is a commentary on my inability to get it right. [Laughter]
Ron: I have no idea what you're talking about, right? [Laughter]
Beth: Right, right.
Ron: This is totally us and we're really aware of that dynamic and that psych, and as you're saying, when things are at their worst, that is an ugly little dynamic with Nan and I. It's part of our—
Beth: And it's just smoothies, but we all react. Think of when your core motivations are activated. It's like when your hand hits the stove, it naturally is going to react. It's going to get defensive. We don't have to put ourselves down for that defensiveness. We can use that. I call them rumble strips because you know when you're on the highway, when you hit the rumble strip on the highway, that should alert you, you're going in the wrong direction and to get back on your healthiest path.
When you are activated, so when you start to feel, let's say you are the smoothie maker and you start to feel, "She thinks I'm incompetent. She thinks I can't do this well because she's telling me that she bought all these things and that's exposing that I must not be the best smoothie maker," Then that activation is your rumble strip to go "Wait,
that's, I'm being activated, but is that really what she's intending? Because she's a totally different person than me. Maybe let me let her know how it landed on me and where is she coming from." So instead of pointing the finger like, "What? Do you think I can't do this?" You know instead of that, "Hey, I'm kind of feeling like you think I can't make these smoothies right from my type three lens. That's how it's landed on me. Can you help me to understand your perspective?" And then she from her two can go, "Oh, I was just trying to be helpful and thoughtful that I was thinking of you."
Jeff: Even her experience of his thoughts she can begin to think that she's being rejected.
Beth: Being rejected, which is huge for the type two.
Jeff: And you totally miss each other as a couple.
Beth: Totally miss, yes. So if we understand each other's core motivations, again, why we do what we do, and be curious, and definitely first and foremost, get your identity back in Christ, not in getting those core longings met by the other person. Because your wife can never fully show you that you are loved for simply being you. She's a human. And you can't fully let her know that she is wanted and loved all the time, but Christ can do that.
When we get grounded back in the truth of the gospel, then the dance, the infinity loop, the dance starts to take different shape and then we come towards each other with that grace, that compassion, a Christlikeness and the other person's going to receive it and they're going to feel more safe to be more open and vulnerable. And the dance now turns into a healthier way.
Jeff: And Ron, then, I mean this is a simple little story that we interviewed this couple live at a Becoming Us live event. You can imagine the same dynamics happening with parenting. A child does something. We each have an interpretation of what's happened.
We each have certain gifts to offer in this experience, but oftentimes if we miss—Beth and I could miss each other where we start fighting and it's no longer about parenting the child just because we have different lenses that we are seeing life through.
Ron: Well, let me just put a bow on this conversation, and then I want us to talk more about parenting. It's a great, great segue. It's really interesting.
By the way, I would just add that is very descriptive of the kinds of things that Nan and I find ourselves in and have through the years. When you reach that point of, okay, something's going on and I'm dysregulated at this point. Let me tell you what we're going to do. What we're going to do is the next book that we're working on. We're going to do the humility shift, which is step out of pride. My pride says my pain right now should be running the show and you should be reacting well to my pain, but you're not so I'm going to let you have it. That's what pride says.
Beth: [Laughter] Yes.
Ron: And I'm going to shift into a humble posture about who I am, and then I'm going to do what we call the four steps and Terry Hargrave's work, the four steps. I'm going to say it out loud. So what's my pain? My fear is that you don't appreciate what I do. You don't think I'm adequate enough. And what do I usually do with that is I get defensive. See, I told you that's my spiritual gift.
Ron: And I try to argue you into liking me, which is really, really stupid. And then so, but what's the truth?
Jeff: That is an awesome phrase. Arguing you into liking me. [Laughter]
Ron: Which just is self-defeat at its best right there. And step three then is what's the truth? Well, the truth is that number one, my identity comes from God, not from you, talking to my wife. And number two, even though you don't like me right now, what I've learned is that you're going to be around, you're not going anywhere and so I can rest. And I can hear what you have to say. And that's step four. I'm going to, instead of being defensive, I'm going to actually calm myself, slow down, listen, put on ears and I'm going to try to see your pain in this, not just react out of my own pain. That's what we're going to do. That's the kind that we're helping to flesh out for couples.
But this transition you're making to parenting is so awesome because our kids have fears, motivations, and things going on inside of them.
Jeff: That's right.
Ron: And here's the funny thing about us as parents and I want to make some applications to stepparents as well, who are trying to figure out a relationship with a stepchild. Maybe they've had a rough go or maybe they're just getting started and trying to bond with that child. I think one of the things about us as parents is that we assume we don't have any motivations when it comes to parenting. We kind of think it's all about our kid, [Laughter] but I actually think parenting is more about us. It's more about us—
Beth: Oh, absolutely.
Ron: —handling ourselves in the big moment, and also being aware of what's going on with our child and being wise enough to slow our reactivity down to hear and see. The curiosity thing you were talking about earlier also has to apply in parenting rather than just being reactive—
Jeff: Oh, big time.
Ron: —expecting immediate good behavior from our children. We need to slow down and go, "What's motivating them? What's going on? What's their need in this whole moment here?" to just try to inform who we are and what we, how we respond back. So let me just sort of, we talked about twos and threes and a little bit about nines. I'm wondering about a stepparent who has just figured out a number for a stepchild that they're having a struggle with. In general, what should they be looking for and what are some things that could help them create a bridge between the two?
Beth: Well first I would say only each person can identify their type because it's based off the core motivations inside them. And that's the free download that you are going to put in the show notes is the core motivations of all nine types. So that's going to be a really helpful resource. But kids can't always tell or know quite what their core motivations are. Now we believe that we're born our main type, but think about, but it's over time that we get to investigate and learn, "Oh yes, this is my type."
Think about a child being that paint can, that when you go to Sherman Williams and you have the paint can, it's white, but you put, you know a certain particular color in there and there's a lot of colors that get put in there, but you can't see it when it, after it's done, it's just, it still looks white.
Well, it's kind of like what God gives us with our kids. It's this, it looks like it's white, and then we think, "Oh, here, let me add my color in. I'll make you like me," you know? So we're trying to get them to blend with us or to have our ideals and our ways, but God already created them the way He wants. He doesn't—you know what do you, what's your saying? He doesn't—
Jeff: Oh, God doesn't make junk and He doesn't junk what he's made. [Laughter]
Beth: Yes. Like He knows what He's doing and so our job as parents is to be curious and to study our kids so as we're stirring, as life is stirring that jar of white paint, that the color's already in there, what comes forth, and it's going to take time.
And our kids are—they're so observing and learning and they're like sponges. They might actually take on characteristics of different people and so you might go, "Oh, they must be that type." I did that with our daughter Libby. I was like, "Oh, she's a nine like me." Well, she's actually a two, but when she's in her younger years, she didn't want to be rejected and so she merged more with me so that she could feel loved and appreciated.
But when she became a teenager, which is what usually happens for a lot of kids, it's like "Wait a second, you're not like how you've always been." It's because her personality is really starting to come out and shine and you can go, "Oh, I think I'm starting to see that some dynamics."
I just kind of want to paint that picture that you can be curious about your kids' type, but it's not until they solidify what is their main type, based on the core motivations that you'll know. Now, saying that, as a parent, man, should we be curious, but also have a non-anxious presence. And I'd love for you to kind of dive into that because that's something that, you know, has been so important to us.
Jeff: Right. When Beth and I think about using the Enneagram in parenting, we start with the parent first. Because here's a parent who has a—the Enneagram speaks to a missing childhood message. A message that their heart longed to hear, but either they didn't hear it, or they misinterpreted it, or providence in all of its mysteries we interpreted this message. Well, we adopted a whole in our family of origin, a whole style of relating, and we often compare families to people on an inner tube in the water. Everybody has their place, and everybody has to react in relationship to one another. And we do that through the lens of our Enneagram type.
If we don't understand how we have responded to living in a painful and sorrowful world—
Beth: —as a parent.
Jeff: —as a child, and then now as a parent, my inclination then is to train my child to deal with the world the way that I do, and it actually gets in the way of me actually seeing the child.
Now, you brought up an incredible point, and one of our favorite parenting books was Dan Allender's book, How Children Raise Parents. Because my children are an invitation to receive the gospel again and again and again. [Laughter]
Ron: Nothing will help you with your own selfishness like marriage except parenting.
Beth: That is true. That is true.
Ron: The two of them together will either force you to deal with your own selfishness or—
Beth: They will bring you to your knees.
Jeff: That's right, and so whenever I understand my own story as a parent that has shaped into the values and the ways of relating that I do, whenever I am mindful of those, then I can actually be present with my child to not expect for them to relate to the world the way that I do, but to be curious about it. As John Gottman writes in his—Raising Emotionally Intelligent Children, I believe is the title of it— [Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child] of what does it look like for me to emotionally coach my child, not coach them to something that I think they should be, or a program.
Beth: We haven't touched on type sixes, so can you give the story of you and Nate and photography?
Jeff: Yes, oh sure.
Beth: Can we expose you, Jeff? [Laughter]
Jeff: My son was 18. He was headed off to college. We had just started Your Enneagram Coach just a couple years prior and started to have some success.
And we were in ministry for 20 plus years, so we really hadn't experienced that kind of notoriety or success before. And so, things were changing. Well, our kids were gaining confidence in "Well, maybe I could be an entrepreneur," and so Nate decided, our son, he wanted to start doing photography. It was popular at that time to do a one-hour photo shoot for about 50 to a hundred dollars for other peers for Instagram photos. There's an incredible market for this.
Well, a type six wrestles with ambivalence and doubt. That there's this ongoing sense of insecurity about entering into the world and that you don't know what's going to happen and so we lean towards worst case scenario. I start telling Nate. I am giving him the gift of my experience. This is what I've longed for as a father. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so I longed to give him wisdom and advice. Like this was my moment to bless my son as he goes into adult life.
Beth: Well, that was the thing. One of the things that you struggled with the most was that you didn't ever feel like you got the guidance you needed.
Jeff: Oh, never got the guidance; that's right.
Beth: So here you are giving the best of who you are, your heart.
Jeff: My son starts crying and I'm like, "Oh no, what did I do?"
Beth: And Nate is a type six as well. And he says—
Jeff: And Nate reflects back, he goes, "I've never wanted to say this to you dad, but when you give me these worst-case scenarios and the doubt, I already experienced that and you're just adding onto my own fear." I thought I was blessing my son and the exact opposite.
Beth: You were—
Jeff: That's right. I was.
Beth: —but it wasn't a full picture. I think that's the thing that we need to say is that you were, but had you been mindful upfront that "Okay, part of what I offer is good guidance and wisdom, and it can also land on someone as ‘Don't ever try anything,' ‘Be afraid of everything.'" When you have a son who's already in that camp, has those lenses he needed in the moment—
Ron: The way they hear it, yes.
Beth: —he needed someone to say, "Yes, let's go for it," and "Let me show you some steps to divert from landmines. Let's make this happen. Let's go for the hill." That's really what he was saying, "Dad, that's what I needed. You and I think too much alike that it was self-sabotaging me."
Jeff: We had made a commitment years ago when we were first learning about the functional centrality of the gospel in our everyday life. And so, we just as a family made our commitment that when someone brings something like that to you, apologize first, and then get curious about what they're feeling. And so, I immediately was like, "Nate, I am so sorry, and I see what you're getting at. Tell me more about how my relating to you isn't helpful and how I can do better now."
Now, it didn't end there. That's the difficult thing is that I'm still a six and I'm going—it's a blind spot for me. But what my son realizes in that moment, it's sort of in the vein of that, circle of security literature that's out there; that he knows that whenever he needs help he can come back to his dad for help, and he's going to listen and not shutting down. He's not going to be dismissive of his fears, but he can be assured that I'm going to try to be present to his life and to guide him through what he's experiencing.
Beth: But you couldn't have been able to do that had you not done your own work.
Jeff: Oh, that's right.
Beth: And understanding.
Jeff: And then even knowing my Enneagram type—
Beth: That's what I'm saying.
Jeff: —I'm like, of course, that's exactly what I do. [Laughter]
Beth: Because, no, and I think this is an important point. This goes back to the original thing is that we have to know ourselves and our own story and our own pain points, our own personality perspective because as a six that did land on you initially as painful because in—I'm sure in your mind you're thinking, "I am—Son, I'm giving you the best of what I have to offer. How dare you, you know, say otherwise." That's how a lot of times we come across as parents because we think the world is seen and operated through the lens we have.
But by doing this work, we can go, "There are other ways of seeing and doing, and I can learn as well. And I didn't mean for it to land on my son that way, but I'm safe and secure in the gospel and I can apologize freely knowing that I can move towards my son and let, and with a non-anxious presence that God's got him and I get to join the journey, you know, walking side by side with him, learning about the way he sees the world and not trying to shut him down."
And so that, I would say it was a big pivot from years past where you might have been frustrated and hurt. And like, "How can you not receive the gift that I'm bringing?"
Jeff: Well, Ron, I want to be sensitive to this because we've not had a lot of opportunity to talk about blended families with Enneagram. But there's one idea that comes to mind. Tell me if this lands on you in your experience in serving these families. But if a child has grown up in a, this one family culture that had these two Enneagram types as parents and they had learned to use all of their strengths of their personality to cope in that family and all of those difficulties, but they couldn't keep the family together.
And now the sudden—they're put into a whole other family system, a whole new culture where you're dealing now with different values. Maybe there were things that mom and dad learned through that first marriage or whether it be that they've lost a spouse or not, and now there's a new person here and this child has to figure out "What, how does my gifting, how does my experience, what does it look like in this new culture?"
It would almost be like moving to another country.
Jeff: The Enneagram helps to give language to it, but it could be really, really difficult to go from one culture to another. But also allowing for this Enneagram information. . To give specific vocabulary to what they're longing for and what they're trying to work out and get assurance from their parents. Does that land—how does that land on you?
Ron: Yes, absolutely. I think that is spot on. It can play out in so many different ways for children. It's getting lost in this new culture. It's, I'm not exactly sure what's expected of me anymore in this place. Right. We talk about the birth order blender that kids experience from one house to the next, who are moving back and forth where they have a space to express their strengths in their personality because they're the oldest in one household, but in the other household, they're a middle or the youngest or one of seven and they're no longer needed. And that strength, there's no space for that strength to be expressed and so they feel a little lost.
I think the same thing's true for a stepparent. My commentary on what you were saying a minute ago is a stepparent who has a blunder with a kid. You thought you were serving them, and lo and behold, it lands on them in a way that tears flow. And you've just put some stress on an already fragile new relationship and now you're thinking, "Now what? I just made it worse." My commentary is, "Yes, you still need to apologize."
The curiosity thing you may or may not get to do right away because may not want to be open to you to even respond to your curiosity. You may have to heal and let it sort of settle a bit before you return to that, but absolutely get to that curiosity, because I think at the end of the day, curiosity helps both people learn something about themselves. Children, in particular, don't know their type or their number or what their motivations are.
I think that's part of what we do in emotional coaching with children that you referenced earlier, is we sort of make observations "Oh, it's like you feel this. It sounds like this motivation is really important to you. Does that feel right?" And so you're helping them learn in something about themselves, but in the process, you as the parent or stepparent are going, "Okay, can't do what I did last time again. The better approach with this child is to come at it this way. That's going to be something that helps both them and me in the moment but it's also going to help further our growing slowly but—you know, if we're getting there—developing relationships.
Jeff: You know the Enneagram actually has a number of different layers to it, and it's grouped in these triads of different types of relating, but some types are more assertive than others; some are avoidant; some have a way of communicating in conflict that are different than one another. And so sometimes even as it relates to emotions, some types have—or all types have different relationships to shame, to anger, to fear.
And so even just understanding the Enneagram as a whole, maybe you don't know the type of your child, but it can actually give you a framework of, "Huh, it's interesting when I move towards my stepchild, I find that they go into a shame spiral. But my, I don't experience a lot of shame; that mine, maybe I'm more an anxious and fearful. The Enneagram gives you language for understanding "Okay, this is a tendency in what they may, I can be curious about and ask more questions about."
Beth: Well, now I'd like to go back to your point, Jeff. That was really good.
Jeff: Well, thank you.
Ron: Whatever it was.
Jeff: Whatever I said. [Laughter] I probably learned it from someone else.
Beth: But how the children are going from one house culture to another. And so if you look at it through the lens of the Enneagram, let's say this child is a type four, and the type fours are the introspective individualists. They have a lot of emotions, you know, highs, but they're very comfortable in melancholy. They feel defective, they feel flawed, they feel like an outsider. They feel very misunderstood.
Let's say their original family unit was a mother who is a type one, and the father's a type five—I mean, I'm sorry, a type two mother, like your wife, so the nurturing supporter, and then the type five is the analytical investigator who is very much in their mind, you know, very practical and logical. So the dad might not be as attuned to this child's emotions and why their whole world—
Ron: But mom is.
Jeff: Mom is dialed in.
Beth: But mom is, yes. Because mom is dialed in because everything is about relationships for her.
Well, let's say that they get divorced and then dad goes and marries a type one. Well, the type one and again, is the principled reformer, and the type one, the type fives are very logic based. So now it's like, "Yes, well Dad, you know wasn't, you know he couldn't attune to my heart and I kind of already knew that, but now I'm with this stepmom who won't accept emotions at all. She does not get it. And there is a wrong and a right way of handling oneself. I'm a child and all I know is I have a lot of emotions that are being misunderstood and I don't feel like I belong," and so you can see, and then the type one stepmom is like, "What is going on?" Like, "What is this emotional world and how do I deal with this? I need to make this right."
Ron: For the child I can totally see where this is going. From the child's experience in one home, they're isolated, alone, nobody really understands them. They don't really know how to connect into the cognitive world of the two adults in their household.
Ron: Then they go to the other house and, you know, mom's totally in tune with me and we get to talk and share, and all sorts of things come out on the emotional level as a result of that. And it's a bit, if I could use the word, you know, bipolar for the child in terms of their experience of their house. Yes, that's totally, absolutely, a plausible scenario for kids and for parents and stepparents.
I think the takeaway is whoever's listening right now, whether you're the one, the five, or the two, it's like, "Yes, slow down. Let's gain some insight. Let's look at who you are—start there, learn something about the child, and then begin to be curious about what their motivations are, what their desires are, and how you can begin to move toward those things.
Beth: Yes. Because that type one stepmother—you know there's nothing wrong with being a type one, but because of the shift of culture, family culture and dynamic, that four child is feeling a bit more confused and maybe more reactive. The type one stepparent can, again, when they're more curious, understanding why they do what they do, but also—and they may or may not know that the child's a type four, but maybe they're curious and they're wondering maybe they could be—then when you can move towards each child, doesn't matter who they are, with their core longing, that message that they long to hear.
Now, you can't deliver it perfectly like God can, but if you can move towards them with their core longing in some shape or form, it will just sing like so much, so many beautiful melodies inside that child's heart. Now that's a really hard process to get to, but like you said, if we can slow down and be curious and be good students, there's going to be so much that we can learn from and move towards.
Jeff: Well, you want to really blow people's minds, you know on the Enneagram, the type one and four connected, that child could help that mom, that one mom—
Beth: —go into the world of emotions—
Jeff: —to understand her heart.
Beth: —creativity and beauty and—
Ron: And we should be influenced by our kids. We should let them stretch us—
Jeff: That's right.
Ron: —in those kinds of ways.
Okay, let me ask one last question, specific to stepfamilies, and then I want to just have you guys answer this question: what's something really insightful about your work with the Enneagram that you don't get to talk about much or most people are unaware of?—just sort of an open-ended, if there's anything that you just really find exciting about it that you would love to share with people. We'll get to that in a second.
So, one last question. If you are—and I appreciate Beth what you just said, to try to understand the core longing in a child or stepchild and then move toward that, that's a great little bonding mechanism. It's, speaking their love language maybe is another way of saying it. But let me ask this: what if in the caveat situation where the child is sort of still closed to the stepparent and so even though you know what their longing is, they don't want you doing it. They don't want you speaking to it. What's the second-best thing that a stepparent in that situation should be trying to understand or move toward?
Core fear, core motivation, core, I mean, what's next on that list?
Jeff: Well, you know, in our, well actually in probably both books—
Beth: Probably blended childhood message.
Jeff: Sure. But I was thinking like, you know we have a number of sections that take sort of like the love language approach on what it looks like to love each type.
Beth: Yes, that's really good.
Jeff: And sometimes there's not a front door approach to address the negative core message that a child may have about themselves. But it looks like accommodating to entering into their world and serving them the way that they want, they like to be served, to affirm them in ways that might mean more to them.
Beth: So, like a type eight, so that eights are the passionate protectors. They may not want the front door approach because they're going to think, "Oh, we're going to have a challenge here. I'll bring it." And so you pushing and prodding on them but if you came in the back door by showing them that you've got their back and that you're not going to betray them, that you see their strength and that you affirm that strength in some way, that's going to land on them, that you really care because you see them, you attune to them, and you're starting to kind of speak their language, wouldn't you say?
Jeff: Right. And, and even like with a type eight child. Type eights have this pattern of confrontational intimacy is the idea is that they actually get close to people as they argue with—
Jeff: —spar with people. So even for a parent to say, I see your strength and I experience your passion. I see you."
Ron: You're a better lawyer and it's okay. Is that that sort of the message?
Jeff: Well, sure. Yes. It's like I, "You matter enough to me that you are impacting my world. I don't want to get in an argument with you, but I'm going to stand my ground because I don't want to lose my identity as you aggressively come towards me" actually builds trust because for an eight they wonder if they're too much. And this is saying to them, "No, I can contain your energy."
Beth: And "What kind of leader are you? Do I have to step in? Do I have to be the leader? Or can you stand on your own two feet? Like, who can I trust?"
Jeff: Oh, believing in an eight to do something and to even ask them like, "Hey, I'm willing to help you with this unless you believe you can do it yourself." versus, "No, I need to do it for you. I'm the parent."
Jeff: And the eight child is like, "No, no, no." They're going to continue to experience resistance.
Beth: The back of our book Becoming Us, we do, like he was saying, there is on all of the nine types in those sections, on a section that says how to love them or how to affirm them. And that's exactly what he's saying. Like, what's the backdoor approach?
Ron: Right, right.
Beth: And every time we bring that up in our speaking, we'll, Jeff will call out like a wife and a husband and she'll, he'll read hers and she's almost like crying. He's like to the husband, "Hey, I just gave you a free gift" you know, like—but it's the same with kids because it's really just about relationships. And so if you are able to study a little bit more and have it, like the back of that book is a cheat sheet, just study. If you know that kids' type, study, what would it mean to affirm them or to come alongside them? What does that look like? Because I guarantee you it's probably not going to be anywhere close to the way you would do it.
Ron: Wow. Guys, this is so interesting. Is there something you just kind of love about the Enneagram most people are not aware of?
Beth: Well, I would just say EIP.
Jeff: Oh man. I was going to go there too. You're right, you're right. [Laughter]
Ron: Alright, tell us.
Beth: Yes, so EIP stands for Enneagram Internal Profile, which is what our whole, our book More Than Your Number is all about.
Jeff: Which came out of pain, like, we were in counseling, dealing with some church hurt. This was before Your Enneagram Coach, and we started learning about a whole new way of using the enneagram.
Beth: Yes. And so basically you have your main type, but you have connecting types that are influencing that main type. Now your main type has two parts, the wounded child and the beloved child. Now the wounded child is what we experienced all growing up, and it did its best to take care of us, to serve us, to keep us alive and survive through its personality perspective from all that it could know at a young age. Our beloved self is our true identity in Christ. And this is the more mature adult version of ourselves. Now, it's still learning, it's still growing, it's still trying to understand our identity in Christ and its fullness.
Jeff: And that's our language for those biblical categories. In the Bible it talks about old self, new self; the new creation, old creation; the flesh versus the spirit and so these two parts of our heart exists.
Beth: Yes, and so think about yourself as a bus and which part is driving the bus? Is it your seven, ten, thirteen-year-old wounded self? Not very helpful, let's just say. Or is it the beloved part of yourself that is more mature and knows how to drive the bus? Now, in the back part of the bus are all of these connecting parts so like I said earlier, the two wings, those two numbers on either side of your main type, and those two lines that are connected to your type, those two numbers, and they're part of you. They influence you.
They're chiming in, but they're going to chime in depending on who's driving the bus.
So, if for me, as a type nine, my wings are type eight and type one, and my two connecting parts are three and six, and they're all chiming in from their perspective. But when my wounded child is driving the bus, those parts are chiming in ways that are not helpful for me. And they're trying; they think they are, but they're not. Now when I bring the beloved child back online, when I get grounded and I realign my heart with the truth of the gospel, then out of the overflow of that heart, these other parts within me also become aligned and they give me so much more beautiful insight on life direction.
And so that's what that book is all about, is really who's driving the bus. Because there are great consequences when we allow our wounded child, who is ill-equipped to drive it, to take the steering wheel versus the beloved.
Jeff: And let me put it to the pavement in a very practical way. We've all had that experience with our children where I love you and there's another part of me that doesn't want to be near you right now. [Laughter] Right. I am a lot of things at once. I'm not just one thing.
Beth: Part of me feels this; part of me feels that. Part of me thinks this; part of me thinks that.
Jeff: That's right, and so where this becomes great language is that I can say to, let's say our young adult children, "Hey, when you do this, there's a part of my heart that gets really angry because it's like you just jumped into my world and expected me to respond to you. But there's another part of me that I never want you to be afraid of asking me for help so could we try to work out a way that we can see each other and so that you know how to get in touch with us."
And for us we work remotely with our team and so they'll start texting and I'm in a Zoom meeting, or I've got all these other channels of communication and they're like, "Hey, how do I set up this kind of bank account?" Or "I just had a flat tire. What do I do?" [Laughter] I'm like, I can't, so I don't just respond to them as "I'm angry and upset," but "I want to help. I love you and I see your need. I'm so thankful you reached out. I just can't do it right now."
Beth: Yes. So that book is just really important to us because it's helped us to navigate through the ups and downs in life by understanding how there's lots going on within us and that we can actually describe it more clearly so that everyone is aware to move forward in a healthier way.
Ron: Guys, this has been so interesting. I appreciate your time so much.
Jeff: Yes. Well thanks, Ron.
Beth: Yes, thanks for having us.
Ron: Thanks for investing in so many people in so many fabulous ways. Thanks for being here. Well, if you want to know more about Beth and Jeff and their ministry, you can check out the show notes and we'll get you connected to what they've got.
And don't forget about those free PDFs. And by the way, you can go on their website, and you can take the Enneagram assessment and you can figure out what you are. I did that. It's kind of fun. You can learn something about yourself and just start that process of learning more about yourself and then what you bring to the equation in your relationships with other people.
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Okay, next time, we're going to be talking about your kids, social media, and the loneliness epidemic with author Dr. Mark Mayfield. That's next time on FamilyLife Blended.
I'm Ron Deal. I appreciate you listening or watching. FamilyLife Blended is part of the FamilyLife® Podcast Network, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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